Are they still late night rivals? In a recent interview, Jay Leno revealed that he is actually a “huge fan” of his TV peer David Letterman but doesn’t exactly feel the same about fellow comedian Conan O’Brien.
Back in 1992, the 68-year-old ended up taking over The Tonight Show after iconic host Johnny Carson retired, although at the time, everyone thought that David, 71, would be the one to nab the job. Not the case! And ever since then, many folks believe there’s been big-time tension between the two. But Jay assured that couldn’t be farther from the truth. “We don’t hate each other,” the former stand-up comic said of David during a recent appearance on Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen. “The media makes a big thing about it. I am a huge fan.”
The comedian continued, “You know, when I started, Letterman was a great wordsmith. He could put things together, but he’s kind of a hesitant performer. I was a very loud, boisterous performer, but I wasn’t that good a writer. So I’d watch him and go, ‘Oh, man, how do you put those sentences together?’ And he’d watch me and go, ‘How can you be so confident on stage?’ So I think we sort of took from each other a little bit.”
But David isn’t the only late night rival that Jay has sometimes had tension with, as back in 2009, NBC named Conan, 55, the new host of The Tonight Show, only to later ask the former The Simpsons writer to move back in time slots to accommodate the Jay Leno’s Garage host. Conan, of course, refused, and Jay told Andy that he “can’t think of anything” he’d do differently while looking back on that decision.
He explained, “Look, they’re rating-based shows. It’s not your decision. People act like it’s your decision … the network makes these decisions. They decide you’re going to leave and then they decide when you’re gonna come back. So, there is not a lot different I would have done.”
No word yet if Andy will be forced to move his show back an hour in order to make a spot for Jay on Bravo.